2969 Home Street, Wantagh, New York 11793
In the summer of 1990, after years of finding excuses not to go,
my wife talked me into going with her to visit her relatives in
Naturally, being an antique engine collector, and not quite of
sound mind, the first thing I did after landing at the Helsinki
Airport, (after collecting our luggage and finding my
brother-in-law, who was driving up to his house about 200 miles
north of Helsinki), was to ask if there was anything up there worth
checking out. After thinking a minute (probably about what kind of
nut did his sister marry), he mentioned an old diesel engine in the
woods on some property belonging to my father-in-law, who had
recently retired from the saw mill business, due to a stroke. This
sounded interesting, since the price would be right (free).
The next day, off we went to take a look. Fortunately, the
engine was located only about 100 feet off the road, in light
brush. That far north they don’t get the heavy pricker bush
overgrowth we know and love around New York State.
At first sight of this creature we saw a vertical tank cooled
engine, single cylinder about 8-10 HP, with a mostly intact slop
bucket over the top of the cylinder, (fortunately). Closer
inspection showed a two cycle, hot bulb type diesel, make unknown
at that time, sitting on rotted out skids. It has a cam and push
rod operated lubricator for the rod bearing and cylinder wall and
grease cups for the main bearings, which turned out to be ball
bearings. Amazingly, a little muscle on the flywheel unstuck the
engine, which is when I decided this monster was going home with
The game plan was to disassemble as much as possible out in the
woods, bring it in pieces to my brother-in-law’s garage, where
some tools were available, and finish disassembling it there.
Separating the flywheel from the crank was the only hard part, but
with some wood wedges and a few bottle jacks, it got done.
The next problem, and this was the biggie, was how do we get
this pile of parts home, 5,000 miles and an ocean away? After
crating the parts, we contacted a local trucker, who was able to
directly load onto a freighter at the docks in Helsinki. This
freight company had agents at Port Newark, New Jersey and could
unload the crates, (three in all), there. I was fortunate in having
in-laws who spoke the language and could arrange all this; all I
had to do was pay the freight charges. The weight of the three
crates was approximately 800 lbs., which didn’t include about
50 lbs. of small parts, which I took back in our luggage (the wife
About three weeks later, the engine arrived at Port Newark. Most
people wouldn’t believe the red tape involved in trying to
import machinery into the U.S. as a private individual. Having an
idea of what was coming, I left early in the morning and got to the
office of the freight forwarder in Jersey City, New Jersey (you
can’t deal directly with the steamship company) when they
opened at 9:00 a.m. There you have to pay his commission, for what
I still don’t understand, and various port taxes and fees.
These receipts in hand, you can go to the U.S. Customs Office,
about six miles away in Newark, New Jersey, and clear the shipment
for customs. Fortunately, I drew a sympathetic customs inspector
who classified the engine as ‘obsolete farm equipment’
which I guess it is; and didn’t assess any import duty.
After leaving customs, by now it was after 1:00 p.m., we headed
for the docks with all our paperwork, including the necessary
customs release. Finally, we were at the warehouse on the docks,
where the engine could be loaded in our truck. Anybody who has ever
been to Port Newark knows what a maze of roads and warehouses it
is! Around 4:00 p.m. we were loaded and heading home. A full day
spent on red tape.
After completely disassembling and cleaning everything, the
engine showed very little wear. The original bearing and rings
could be re-used. The hard part was going to be identifying it, and
figuring out how to set it up to run. Unfortunately, at some point
in the past, the cylinder’s housing had cracked, and the repair
that was made destroyed the serial numbers, which might have
helped. There is still an ‘M’ cast into the cylinder midway
up, which was very important. With the help of Mr. Lars Palm of the
Smalands Museums in Vaxjo, Sweden (an agricultural museum), we were
able to identify it as a Munktell, made in Sweden. He is still
working on it for possibly the year built and paint color, etc. An
important clue was the lubricator, which has ‘Alex
Friedmann’ cast into the cover.
Recently, on the first attempt to start up, we got a few
promising pops, but stopped, because there were leaks in the fuel
line, which is under high pressure.
If anyone has any information about this or similar engines, I
would appreciate their contacting me, telephone 516 783-9159.